When customers purchase tires from a service facility they are usually more interested in bottom-line, out-the-door pricing than anything else. After they agree to the overall price and hopefully understand what type of tires they are getting and what driving conditions the tires are best used in they pay the bill for the entire package. They may be amazed or even disgruntled by some line items on the bill such as tire-disposal fees and shop fees – and comment to you about them. The fact is that as long as the bill is within the total out-the-door pricing you quoted, usually not much additional discussion takes place.

One area where there’s not much discussion, but where there should be, is that of tire warranty. Some shops that are national chains have warranties that extend nationally for any service related to the tires. Others have warranties that only apply to the tire itself. If you have a road-hazard guarantee and it has a nation-wide warranty, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the tire is going to be mounted and rebalanced at no charge. Likewise, if the failure occurred in the first few thousand miles where it would be considered a road-hazard replacement, it doesn’t mean that the service itself would be at no charge.

You should have a simple-to-understand, bullet-pointed information sheet with checkboxes and spend a minute or two going through the various warranty scenarios with the customer. At least you will know that if this checklist is attached to the invoice, and put into the customer’s glove box, that at one time he understood or at least heard the terms of the warranty. It is quite irritating to be on a trip through the Badlands and hit a rock or pothole, blow a tire and only then find out that, while your tire may be warrantied because it is a national brand, service items are not because there is no similar shop or shop that belongs to the same program as the shop you bought the tire from. The bill could easily get into the $40 or $50 range. And what if the tire is just in need of repair and you have a no-charge, flat-repair warranty with the shop you bought it from? Is that warranty transferable nationwide?

It may not be, depending upon the particular program the shop that sold you the tire belongs to. 

I was in a shop once when a customer called in who was on a road trip and had a flat tire. He was quoted a repair bill of about $35 to have the tire repaired. He called the shop where he bought the tire and they said to him, without knowing where he was, to come in with the tire and they would fix it for him for nothing. When he explained that he was out on the road, they told him to put on the spare and “come on in.”
The customer was not extremely happy and even though he should have known that the shop didn’t know he was out of town, he thought they did. The following conversation and future conversation was interesting in this particular scenario. The moral of the story is that, just as with any other repair you perform, you should explain a warranty to the customer, especially on tires.

Customers think that anyone who sells XYZ-brand tires should warrantee and replace a tire if there is a problem. This is not necessarily true. Make sure that your customer understands what your shop’s policy is, the policy of the national-brand tire warranty and what he has to, or should, do if he has a tire-service issue while out on the road. Some of the national programs that independent and chain shops belong to provide tire-warranty service among a wide variety of shops simply by calling in a number that is included on the warranty or receipt when a tire is purchased. They will guide them to a shop that will handle the warranty regardless of where they are, whereas other indications are that the particular shop that sold the tires is the one responsible for everything but possible replacement of the tire itself if there is a defective condition. Communication is important in the automotive aftermarket repair business. It is even more important when tire service is involved.

Some dealerships are now getting into the tire business with small independent businesses, not as part of the overall name brand of automobile they sell. Warranty could also be an issue for them. If you bought a tire at XYZ dealership and you think it’s warrantied by the car manufacturer, you’re going to have “another thing coming” if you ever need tire service. Explanation, understanding and clear, concise text that includes what’s going on, what’s warrantied and what’s to be expected is mandatory when performing tire service and sales. It’s not a difficult area of repair, but it is one that warrants taking a moment, standing back and making sure the customer understands because if they don’t and they need service they usually are extremely upset when they come back in simply because things were not clearly and completely explained to them to start with.